Sunday, May 17, 2015

Using Sunday to Create a Perfect (stress free) Work Week

Sundays used to be a mixed experience for me.  On the one hand, enjoyed the day off which allowed time to spend with my family. On the other hand, I would often experience anxiety on Sundays as I thought about the week ahead. The stress levels became too much.  That's when I decided to do something.  After a little bit of experimenting, I realized that I could shift the course of the entire week with just a few small tweaks to my Sunday afternoons.

With certainty, I can predict the type of week I'd have if I made the most out of Sunday.  At first I thought that Sunday night anxiety was just something that happened to me.  Turns out that Sunday night anxiety or sunday night blues, is a real issue for  many of us.   But don't worry,  you can overcome the Sunday night blues with just a few small changes.
Taking 15-20 minutes on Sunday to plan out your entire week is probably the most effective strategy there is to alleviate stress from the week ahead.  I first heard of this technique from Steven Covey or David Allen.  Basically, you take a little time to review the results of the current week and set up new goals/actions for the week ahead.  You write down your wins, your losses and what you will do differently next week.  Planning on a Sunday is powerful.  You're doing at a time when there are no deadlines, no emails coming in, no phone calls.  You can get as detailed as you want or you can plan at a high level.  It's really up to you.  This process of unloading everything from your head and putting it down on paper is a such a stress reliever.  Your mind can rest at ease because it doesn't have to constantly remind you of what you need to-do.  Every time you are reminded of something that you can't do anything about (at that moment), it causes you stress.  When I plan my week, I'll start with a list of random things I want to do, then I calendar that list so it's scheduled.  It's rare that I do everything thing on my weekly plan but I can guarantee that I accomplish much more than if I operate without one. A written weekly plan pretty much secures the success of my week.
Once you have a plan on paper, you can take it to the next level by taking a few minutes to envision everything on your list.  See yourself being productive, confident, and whatever else constitutes your ideal outcome for the week.  By envisioning your week, you work towards removing mental barriers that can sometimes stop you from taking the action you want.  There's much less resistance and the actions come easily.  Creating a mental picture is probably my most effective strategy at overcoming procrastination.  It's like once I create a mental picture, my mind wants to carry it out in reality.  Make things much easier for me.
Subconsciously, one concern I have about starting a new work week is that I feel I've neglected myself all week. Once Monday comes, I'm back to the grind of doing tasks for other people.  Deep down, I resent that fact that my needs are put on the back burner which leaves me feeling that I need more time before Monday rolls around.  Before the new week begins, it's important that you carve out a little time to pour back into yourself.  Which makes Sunday a perfect day to conduct your beauty rituals or do anything else that brings you personal joy.
Hair Tonic Tea | Bamboo Tea + Ginger + Cayenne Pepper
Maybe that means going for a leisurely walk, or fixing a warm cup of soothing tea while while flipping through your favorite magazine.  Maybe you allow a few minutes to meditate, allowing negative thoughts to leave you.  When I used to counsel people in my previous role, one of the questions that I'd often ask over-stressed employees is what they did to pour back into themselves.  The more stressed out they were, the less they poured back into themselves.  The best thing I can do  on a Sunday evening is to conduct a ritual to bring balance to my stress levels.  I'll light my favorite scented candle, play calming music in the background, take deep breaths, and allow the stress to float away.  By the time I head to bed, I'm whole again and ready to take on the new week ahead.

Then there's that heaviness you feel from having to go to a job where you no longer find joy.  If you dread Mondays because of having to return to a job you dislike than a weekly plan is even more critical.  The plan, my friends, is the key to you making progress on your path to freedom.  Freedom can mean finding another place of employment, getting a promotion, or working for yourself.  If you don't block out time during the week to work on your freedom plan, you prolong the experience that you dread.  Without intervention, you are doomed to repeat the same week over and over again.  Even if you are taking tiny steps each week, it's better than standing still. Nothing changes when you stand still.    We have 52 Sunday Nights in a week. Each Sunday is an opportunity to create a fresh start for the week ahead.  Before you know it, enough Mondays pass for you to actually experience your freedom you long for.  Then you'll truly know what it's like to have stress free Sundays.

  1. I'm already feeling the Sunday Blues so this post was timely! Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Excellent suggestions to prepare for the week ahead.

  3. Printed this one out, Pinned it, everything lol. You are always on time in your posts. I picked up a part-time job that has me working through the weekends and I wondered why I've been feeling so run down and unaccomplished, I take ZERO time to "pour back into myself." Aha :)! I also love the concept of the freedom plan. Awesome stuff. Hope you have a wonderful week!